Hola, je m'apelle Dana. Aloha!

Munch has never been the type of kid that has a "lovey." He was attached to a pacifier till last week when we went cold turkey...so far, so good with that feat. He does get attached to one toy for a few days...One that he continually goes back to is one of those stand-up tables that laughs and sings to him with every little button and switch. I remember when he first pulled himself on it...Now he's literally running circles around it yelling back his famous "Aughhhhhhhhh" line. To switch it up on him, I'll flip the Spanish switch on the table and watch him. He knows something is different but in a matter of minutes he's back to banging his hands and yelling at the lights (that's my boy!). :) So, I've left it on Spanish. Why not?? I would absolutely love it if he was bilingual. I took French in high school, Spanish in college and what do I have to show for it? Bonjour, mi llamo es Dana. Oh wait...Aloha? Hola? Well, you get the picture. I wish that I was fluent in another language. Adding that to my resume would be amazing! I get calls weekly while I am in the office asking if I speak Espanol.  Sadly, No habla espanol  is the best I can do.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to connect with Kathleen Thomas who is the Communications Coordinator with Prim Rose Schools. She shared a thoughtful article that I was excited to share. Her words triggered some thoughts of my own ... I'm anxious to hear your thoughts too! What do you look for in a preschool and early childhood education? For all you newbie moms like me, the crazy thought is that preschool is NOT THAT FAR AWAY. Sigh. Is it going fast for you too?

The Best Time for Bilingual Education- Early Childhood Learning

Of course, nobody knows what the future will hold – but if current trends continue, your child will grow up to enter a workforce in which the competition for decent-paying jobs will be nothing short of cut-throat. Despite the calls for greater co-operation and "interdependence," human nature being what it is, it's a good bet that the economy of the the future will operate according to the Law of the Jungle. It goes without saying that a good education is one of the best ways to prepare that child for survival in that economic jungle of the future.

The Bilingual Future

One of the future trends that has become certain is the existence of a diverse, global society. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States. Almost from the beginning, the U.S. has been a land of immigrants, and while the "melting pot" has been an interesting theory, it has not happened in practice. On the contrary, most major U.S. population centers have become more of an ethnic and linguistic checkerboard; Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese speakers represent some of the fastest-growing segments of the immigrant U.S. population.

In addition, with the rise of China, English may very well lose its preeminence as the international language of business; at best, it will have to share that top status with Mandarin in decades to come.

Getting Ready

Traditional wisdom has been to start teaching a second language in middle school, or even high school. Yet numerous research studies clearly demonstrate that the optimal period in a child's life for multilingual education is during the preschool years – at exactly the same time they are learning their first language. Yes, it is possible to learn a second and third language later in life, but it is more difficult, because that neurological "window of opportunity" – when the brain is most malleable – has passed.

According to Dr. Fred Genessee, Professor of Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, it's as easy for young children to learn two or three languages as it is for them to learn one. He's not alone; educators throughout the world (in countries that often have two or even three official languages) have understood this for decades.

The way a child learns a second language is by actually speaking it in a total immersion environment. You may recall an episode of the animated series The Simpsons in which young Bart gets trapped on a farm in France – and by the end of the episode, finds he's actually speaking the language. While this was a fictional scenario, the phenomenon is real; anyone who has taken young children abroad to stay with relatives in a foreign country for any length of time has observed this happening.

Enrollment in a preschool program that offers immersion in other languages is the best way to get your child started.  This investment will make him/her much more competitive in the job market later on.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Austin day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

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